New research has found that spending more than four hours a day watching television vastly increases one's chances of developing sleep apnoea.
More TV means more snoring
Researchers from Harvard Medical School conducted a study in which they followed the lifestyle habits of 138,000 people over the course of 10 to 18 years. The findings show that those with higher levels of sedentary behaviour—with corresponding low levels of physical activity—were likelier to be at risk of suffering from obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA).
Sleep apnoea is a condition in which one's airways are, either completely or partly, obstructed during sleep resulting in snoring and interrupted sleep. Left untreated, this can lead to serious complications including: risk of cancer, glaucoma, heart attacks, high blood pressure, strokes, type 2 diabetes and cognitive and behavioural disorders.
One billion people
Scientists believe that an estimated one billion people in the world between the ages of 30 and 69 are affected by mild-to-severe OSA. Author of the paper and epidemiologist at Harvard Medical School, Tianyi Huang, explains that:
We saw a clear relationship between levels of physical activity, sedentary behaviour and OSA risk. People who followed the current World Health Organization physical activity guidelines of getting at least 150 minutes of moderate activity per week and spent less than four hours per day sitting watching TV, had substantially lower OSA risk.
Importantly, we saw that any additional increase in physical activity, and/or a reduction in sedentary hours, could have benefits that reduce the risk of developing obstructive sleep apnoea.
Experts recommend those who spend a large part of their day at work sitting at their desk to compensate by leading a more active lifestyle when out of the office.